Pruning Roses

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A rose by any other name, sure it would smell as sweet, but it would also have thorns that prick and jab mercilessly and make me think pruning is going to be one of my least favorite gardening chores. Ouch, those suckers hurt!

The house we bought came with five shrub roses in the back, and I'm going to do my best to keep them going. I never had roses of my own to care for, so this is all new territory for me.

The current issue of Organic Gardening had a short piece on the basics of rose pruning, so I used that as my guide. It said to prune when the buds begin to swell, and that looks to be right about now.

I clipped the branches at about a quarter inch above the buds. Then I removed some of stems that had no buds at all. There were also a few canes that were dead, so I cut those down to the ground completely. Reaching in to get to the base of the plant was the worst because, man, those branches really do like to cling. I was wearing a down jacket at the time and I thought there'd be feathers flying at one point. Scrape. Rip. Ow!

Pruning helps improve air circulation around the plants, and that, in turn, supposedly wards off common rose diseases. Let's hope so anyway. Those bushes are full of new buds right now. I can't wait to see how they'll do this summer, now that the beastly pruning task is crossed off the list.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know what kind of roses you inherited? They're looking healthy with those buds ready to produce leaves :-)

8:56 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Shrub roses are harder to prune that teas or floribundas. Sorry the process hurt, but you'll be so happy this summer!

9:29 PM  
Blogger Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

We had to prune back eight test Buck roses last week. It was a job. I made guanlets out of the legs of old blue jeans to protect our arms and sweaters. Your instructions were great.


4:42 PM  
Blogger Shady Gardener said...

Surely after all that effort, the roses will be beautiful! I'll look forward to seeing how they do. :-)
What is the saying? Something about there being the bane of thorns on rose bushes or the blessing of roses on thorn bushes? Great job.

9:49 PM  
Blogger BK said...

Roses are sure worth the effort. You'll love them!

1:05 PM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Hi Christa,

You showed some red roses last fall - did all the existing rose shrubs turn out to be red or were there different colors? You have something beautiful to look forward to in a few months!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

10:37 AM  
Blogger Christa said...

Hi, Annie,

All of them turned out to be red (for love, I guess! :-). When we moved in last fall, there were a few stragglers still in bloom. They had such a wonderful fragrance. I can't wait to see how they'll do this summer.

Thanks for visiting, everyone!

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading your blog makes me long to have a garden of my own. I'll still have my "fire escape" herb pots this year.

Thanks for the inspiration!!

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'll be pleasantly surprised at how well roses that have been neglected respond once they are cut back. Just leave three or four young canes and look out. I worked in the rose fields of California summers while in school and I think I still have scars from them but their nothing compaired to bougainvillea, I sware those buggers are just plain mean....

1:31 PM  
Blogger RaymentW said...

Besides being healthy for the plant, I think trimming roses is healthy for people. Just growing something and knowing that you are producing something wonderful can be fulfilling. Having said that, I think it is important that people know that you trim climbing and teas differently. Climbing roses generally only flower on old canes, so they should not be cut back as severely.

10:59 PM  

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